PANZER: Foundation Sire

Featured Image: ‘Panzer’ aged 29 & Bob Mackay ‘The Quiet Man’ with daughter Sarah

Panzer – Foundation Sire: “The Australian Stock Horse Journal” June/July 1988

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Panzer can be considered to be to Polo what Radium is to Campdrafting

Panzer Bay Stallion        26 September 1945 – 16 December 1974

Sire:       Panthom (ASB Vol 18/336) by Pantheon (imp) 1921 by Tracery ex Scotch Rose

Ex Lady Chrysippus by Chrysippus (Imp) ex Grace Melton

Dam:     Nellie by Kangon by Cesarion (Am) ex Diffidence 1895 from Etra Weenie 1889

Ex Gooroolai by Montecelo (Imp) ex Deference


Panzer bred and owned throughout his life by Bob Mackay on “Tinagroo”, Scone, NSW was foaled on 26 September 1945 and died on 16 December 1975.

A Thoroughbred carrying excellent bloodlines, Panzer was never recorded in the Australian Stud Book. His dam Nellie, although mentioned as a foal in the ASB, due to the Second World War was never returned to the Keeper of the Australian Stud Book.

On returning home from the war Bob Mackay found that several of his Thoroughbred mares were in the same position. Nevertheless he made the decision to continue breeding from them to produce Polo Ponies.

When writing about any Thoroughbred it is quite possible to trace its pedigree back to the beginning of the breed and claim its ability as a result of being descended from one of the early “greats”.

No such claim is being made for Panzer, but if any one of his ancestors is to be credited with having had an influence on his ability as a sire, it must be from Etra Weenie. Students of Thoroughbred breeding will recognise this mare as being one of Australia’s greatest broodmares.

Foaled in 1889 and by Trenton, Etra Weenie was a great-granddaughter of Sappho (1847) one of the colonial taproot mares. The majority of Sappho’s descendants racing today are traced through Etra Weenie.

Sappho must have been a very good mare and much admired as she was stolen three times by bushrangers, each time to be recovered by her owner Mr. George Lee of Leeholme Stud, Bathurst.


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One of Etra Weenie’s daughters, Diffidence (1895) won the Sydney Cup; then in 1913 at the age of 17 years was sold for 900 guineas to J. K. & W. H. Mackay. A lot of money to be paid for an aged mare (she was also rather small), but this line of horses was in demand and good horses are usually found where the name Mackay appears.

Diffidence was the dam of a stallion Kangon and great-granddam of a mare Gooroolai (1921). The mating of Gooroolai to Kangon produced Nellie.

The art of inbreeding has long been practiced with horses and here is an excellent example. It is accepted by many successful horse breeders that an inbred individual should be outcrossed to a well-bred or well performed mate.

In this case Nellie was bred to Panthom (1936), a son of the renowned Tracery sire Pantheon (Imp.).

Pantheon (Imp.) is probably best known as the sire of dual Melbourne Cup winner Peter Pan. It is interesting to note Pantheon (Imp.) was favourite for the 1926 Melbourne Cup, finishing third. Peter by Pater Pan was second in the 1944 Melbourne Cup. Peter Pan’s wins were in 1932 and 1934.

Panzer was named after Rommel’s wartime Panzer Divisions of his elite Afrika Korps. Bob Mackay first started using Panzer as a sire at the age of three years, although he did get a foal when two years old. This colt was the outstanding sire Myra Bronze owned by Ted Hooke. (The Australian Stock Horse Vol. 1, No. 2, page 28).

On the North Coast of NSW Myra Bronze has probably become even better known than his sire. He sired horses which have been used in almost every horse sport except Polo. Suzie by Myra Bronze, ridden by Theo Hill was second in the Expo ’75 Campdraft.

Bob Mackay says of his stallion, “Panzer began his Polo career as a rising 5 year old in 1949, and should have had his name on the first Countess of Dudley Cup that year, but for the floods at Maitland which washed out the tournament and everybody had to evacuate at short notice.

“My team, Wirragulla, had won the Cup the previous year and won the following years, 1950, 51, 52 and 54. We did not compete in 1953 but defeated the winners, Goulburn, later in the Wellington Cup by 9 goals to 3. Panzer also played in the 1952 Australian Gold Cup at Maitland, and at the NSW Night Polo Championship in Sydney.

He played Polo until 1956 when he was 11 years old and about reaching his prime, because each Chukka he played was better than the one before. That year we won the Northern Challenge Cup at Quirindi for the third successive year, but my health forced me to give up Polo. Panzer retired with me as did two of his daughters, Mersa and Misra, both of whom had been playing beside him for the past two or three years. It was unfortunate for Panzer, as he would have played on for another four or five years at his top. He never developed a heavy neck as stallions do, and become heavy to handle, but remained a very orthodox Polo pony; he never pulled or ran on and always played off the single bottom rein of the curb.

“Although Panzer was a brilliant horse cutting-out on a camp – I always used him for this work on the property – I never allowed him to campdraft, as for me he was a specialist as a Polo pony”.

Of the mare Mersa, Bob Mackay adds, “Mersa was the first of Panzer’s progeny to play Polo and was a beautiful mare to play on, being completely orthodox and simple to play in a single rein curb off the bottom ring only. Literally a fingertip control! He dam Ranmena, was the best of the three sisters I played in the 1930s and Mersa was the second of four sisters (three full sisters).”

The one sister Mena, not by Panzer, was bred to him to producing A. S. H. stallions Cairo and Berrico Mutruh. Other stallions by Panzer are Dundee, Alamein, Prancer and the well-known horse The Gun.

The Gun carries two crosses of Pantheon (Imp.), as his dam is by another Pantheon stallion Pantler. Pantler incidentally also ran in the Melbourne Cup, coming third in 1939. Although Panzer’s female line is very strong one of his sire lines has also been popular and very successful.

Horses of Pantheon descent have been sought after not only for racing but particularly for Polo and in a number of cases breeders have combined several lines to gain two and sometimes three crosses of this successful Thoroughbred sire.

Terlings Mountbatten owned by Sinclair Hill and Doug Knapton was an example of this concentrated line breeding, being by The Gun out of Wren by Panzer. In addition Mountbatten had a double cross of another successful Thoroughbred sire.

Gibbergunyah by Lingle by Linacre, stood on the property next to Panzer and is considered by some horsemen to be greater sire than Panzer. Bob Mackay certainly had a respect for him as did many others, with the result that a number of Gibbergunyah mares were bred to Panzer.

The well performed Copper Key is another example of using some of the above mentioned lines as his sire The Lizard is by Pantler out of a Gibbergunyah mare.

Although Panzer did not sire large numbers of foals most have done well in their fields. The majority went onto the Polo field but now grandsons and granddaughters and even their progeny are competing well in a wide range of equestrian events. As Bob Mackay took only a small number of outside mares to Panzer over the years and rarely sold a mare, Panzer’s name continued mainly through his sire lines.

Panzer’s temperament was excellent and that of most of his descendants follows suit. Bob Mackay considers performance very important and a background of Polo most important when breeding Polo ponies rather than just picking a good Thoroughbred. He prefers a horse of 15 to 15.2 hands (the ideal A. S. H. height) and Panzer at 15.0 ½ hands was just what he wanted. Panzer held his hocks well under, had a good wither, a refined well curved neck that was not heavy, was short below the hocks and knees and a well ribbed body that was not too wide, in fact almost everything that a good Australian Stock Horse should be.

Bob Mackay once owned Kalimar, a stallion who raced well and has produced racehorses, show hacks, jumpers and Polo ponies. As good as he was he did not produce consistent height; Panzer did.

Some people have said they thought Panzer was a little too light boned and has left this in his progeny. The British said this of the Australian horses used in the desert campaign of the First World War, but they got the job done. Probably it is mainly a matter of personal preference.

Horses of Panzer descent can now be found form Queensland to S. A. so their influence on the Australian Stock Horse as a breed is undeniable. If Panzer is to be listed along with other foundation sires in order of importance, then he can probably be placed after Cecil and his son Radium, Saladin, Bruce and his son Bobby Bruce. As two father and son combinations are mentioned here, Panzer and his grandsire Pantheon (Imp.) should be listed together.

Panzer was a sire who was well recognised while still alive, but now that his descendants are moving into many fields other than Polo it will be interesting to see just how important his line eventually proves to be.

Bob Mackay ‘The Quiet Man’

I compiled this encomium for the benefit of my children and grandchildren who may not otherwise have access to this information about their grandfather or great grandfather. Naturally I have used the available resources. Much of it is taken from a eulogy written by Bob’s brother Ken from ‘Cangon’, Dungog and dated 16 March 1987. I added a few small observations and asides myself. Earlier I wrote about Bob’s Polo Sire ‘Panzer’ who is recognised again here on the featured image.

Robert Theodore Mackay            Born 12/2/1912                 Died 06/12/1986

Father: C M Mackay of Bondi     Bank Manager                   Mother:

At the age of two he and his brother Ken went to live with their father’s cousin John Kenneth Mackay (JKM) and his wife, first at ‘Pullaming’, Gunnedah and then in 1920 moved to ‘Cangon’, Dungog.

The Kings School (TKS)

Bob was at the Kings School (TKS) form 1926 to 1930. He left school at the time of the Great Depression. In 1937 JKM died aged 80 and by then Bob was already running a number of sheep and cattle properties.

Those old boys who were at Broughton House from 1926 to 1930 will no doubt remember Bob practicing and learning to play the bagpipes; being banished to the Locker Room to make the necessary noises; but of course mastered that Scottish Art; and always played his “pipes” on appropriate occasions. He took his “pipes” with him when he sailed overseas, and was never parted from them as all his mates well know until the day he was wounded and was eventually evacuated home to Australia, where he was hospitalised for twelve months. It was however very much to his delight that his mates eventually brought his “pipes” back to him, when they returned home from the Middle East to continue their fight in New Guinea.(JKM: Cangon Pty Ltd., PO Box 8; Phone “Tabbil Creek” 921676; “Cangon” 921231. “Tabbil Creek”, Dungog, NSW 2420: 16 March 1987).

War Service

Bob joined the AIF in June 1940 and sailed for the Middle East in the 2/2 Machine Gun Battalion 9th Division on Christmas Day 1940. He joined a team of three brothers with Ken and Bill sailing on the same ship. They were all members of the famous ‘B Company’ of that Unit. Bob was badly wounded at El Alamein. His mates thought he should have died then but with some luck and tremendous amount of courage ‘he survived to enjoy his life to the utmost’. Bob returned to Australia in March 1943 on the hospital ship ‘Oranji’ and then spent a year in Concord Australia General (Repatriation) Hospital.

In 1944 Bob married Ponty Spicer. They had four children: Jane (1945, Susan (1947), Ranald (1950 TKS 1964 – 1969) and Sarah (1952). He was immensely proud of his family and children and devoted his life to them and spouse Ponty. Bob was a person of exceptionally strong character and his principles would never be questioned.

Bob played Polo and in 1938 was in the first Scone team to win the Countess of Dudley Cup. After the war at Dungog he played with the highly successful Wirragulla team despite his restricting war injuries. Bob was possibly the best Australian Polo No 1 always beautifully mounted on his own home-bred ponies. He retired from Polo following a long operation in 1957 due to his war wounds.

The family moved in 1958 to ‘Tinagroo’, Scone where he had spent a considerable amount of time in his early 20’s. He retired in 1978 to ‘Durness’ near Scone and started a Highland Cattle Stud.

Bob served on the Pitt, Son & Badgery Board and when they were taken over by Elders he was on the Elders Pastoral Board until his death.

RT’s great love was the land and animals, and he was fortunate he could work with them until he died suddenly. Bob was deeply attached to the Kings School (TKS) and at Commemoration Day 1986 was one of the Old Boys who presented an sword to the Cadets. Bob had represented TKS at Shooting and in the 2nd XI Cricket Team.

He was a kind and gentle man who believed in standing up for what he thought was right. Right to him was not always might.

He was Chairman and Pastoral Manager of Lawn Hill Pty Ltd for 10 years up to 1975 when the cattle station was sold to Brazilian interests. Lawn Hill was situated north of Mt Isa in the Queensland Gulf Country.

At the time of his death he was Chairman and Pastoral Manager of Boonaldoon Pty Ltd; a position he held for many years. ‘Boonaldoon’ is situated west of Moree and is mostly a sheep and cattle station.

Bob visited Scotland on two occasions, and on his last trip brought back some Scottish Highland Cattle which by now have increased their number and are running still on “Durness”. There are no more Bob Mackays unfortunately, but he will always be remembered and saluted by those who knew him as the “Real Mackay”.

JKM 16 March 1987

Dear Ponty,

I was requested to write this for the next edition of the TKS School Magazine. I hope you approve.